What better way to recognize the 50th anniversary of John F. Kennedy’s death this November than to toast to his accolades with theater reprisals? Well, not really.
For one month only, Bryan Cranston, lead star of hit TV show Breaking Bad will be playing Lyndon B. Johnson in All the Way, a theatrical production at A.R.T in Cambridge, Mass. The portrayal of the new president on the eve of the assassination is a harrowing tale. LBJ, our stand-in hero attempted to guide us through a time of uncertainty, fear, and vulnerability; a time when many of us lost faith in those leading us (current gov’t shutdown eerily relevant); a time when our nation was divided about wars at home and unnecessary involuntary action in the East. This Texan politician very frankly led us back on our feet after turmoil and the death of a trusted figure.
This play is not just about the successor, Lyndon Johnson and the last few days of November 1963. Rather, it’s a story of the leader who started great things (Medicare, AmeriCorps, the beginnings of the Civil Rights Act) and the one turning these accomplishments into legacies. In all my research of the Kennedy administration, I’ve always come across literature describing LBJ as stubborn, old-fashioned, brute. But because the play shows a vulnerable side of Johnson on the crux of failure, I see him in a new light and can commemorate the leader who made his presidency possible.
The American Repertory Theater’s production of All the Way ends Oct. 12th. You can check out details here.